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Welcome

UPDATED MAY 2019 | The Draft Hazards Element of the Countywide Plan (CWP) is presented for public review as a beta version of the web-based Policy Plan. Graphics, photos, and search functionality are in development and will be included in subsequent releases of the web-based Policy Plan.

INTRO, PURPOSE, & PRINCIPLES

  • Introduction

    The massive scale of the county’s geography and the complexity of its economy and socioeconomics exposes people, buildings, and facilities to a wide range of natural (wild fires, flooding, geologic activity, and wind) and human-generated hazards (hazardous materials, airports, and noise). Reducing the risks associated with such hazards improves real and perceived senses of safety, providing the county with a higher quality of life and spurring continuous investment and improvement of the county’s communities, businesses, and natural areas.

    The County is committed to protecting life, property, and commerce from impacts associated with natural hazards, human-generated hazards, and increased risk due to climate change. The County also works to ensure that residents in unincorporated disadvantaged communities have a reduced risk of exposure to pollution and have equitable access to public facilities and services. Effectively reducing these risks requires the County and its partners to evaluate public safety threats, proactively plan and protect against potential hazards, and establish systems that will make the county and its people safer and more self-reliant.

  • Purpose

    The Hazards Element:

    • Identifies potential natural and human-generated hazards, including increased risk due to climate change.
    • Provides direction to address risks to residents, businesses, workers, and visitors.
    • Prioritizes resources and reduce pollution exposure in unincorporated disadvantaged communities.
  • Principles

    We believe:

    • A safe environment is necessary to build and maintain a sustainable and prosperous county.
    • The County is proactive in lessening risks from natural and human-generated hazards.
    • Reduction in the loss of life, injury, private property damage, infrastructure damage, economic losses, and social dislocation can be achieved through planning and preparedness.
    • Emergency response and recovery efforts contribute to a resilient county, given unavoidable emergencies and natural disasters.
    • Those who live in unincorporated disadvantaged communities should not be burdened with elevated exposure to pollution risks and reduced access to public facilities and services.

GOALS & POLICIES

  • Goal HZ-1 Natural Environmental Hazards

    Minimized risk of injury, loss of life, property damage, and economic and social disruption caused by natural environmental hazards and adaptation to potential changes in climate.


    Policy HZ-1.1      New subdivisions in environmental hazard areas
    We require all lots and parcels created through new subdivisions to have sufficient buildable area outside of the following environmental hazard areas:

    • Flood: 100-year flood zone, dam/basin inundation area
    • Geologic: Alquist Priolo earthquake fault zone; County-identified fault zone; rockfall/debris-flow hazard area, existing and County-identified landslide area

    Policy HZ-1.2      New development in environmental hazard areas
    We require all new development to be located outside of the environmental hazard areas listed below. For any lot or parcel that does not have sufficient buildable area outside of such hazard areas, we require adequate mitigation, including designs that allow occupants to shelter in place and to have sufficient time to evacuate during times of extreme weather and natural disasters.

    • Flood: 100-year flood zone, dam/basin inundation area
    • Geologic: Alquist Priolo earthquake fault zone; County-identified fault zone; rockfall/debris-flow hazard area, medium or high liquefaction area (low to high and localized), existing and County-identified landslide area, moderate to high landslide susceptibility area)
    • Fire: high or very high fire hazard severity zone

    Policy HZ-1.3      Floodplain mapping
    We require any new lots or subdivisions partially in, and any new development partially or entirely in 100-year flood zones or 100-year flood awareness areas to provide detail floodplain mapping for 100- and 200-year storm events as part of the development approval process.

    Policy HZ-1.4      500-year flood zone
    We may collaborate with property owners in the Valley region to establish funding and financing mechanisms to mitigate flood hazards in identified 500-year flood zones.

    Policy HZ-1.5      Existing properties in environmental hazard areas
    We encourage owners of existing properties in hazard areas to add design features that allow occupants to shelter in place and to have sufficient time to evacuate during times of extreme weather and natural disasters.

    Policy HZ-1.6      Critical and essential facility location
    We require new critical and essential facilities to be located outside of hazard areas, whenever feasible.

    Policy HZ-1.7      Underground utilities
    We require that underground utilities be designed to withstand seismic forces, accommodate ground settlement, and hardened to fire risk.

    Policy HZ-1.8      Wind erosion hazards
    We require new development in medium-high or high wind erosion hazard areas to minimize the effects of wind-blown soil through building and site design features such as fencing, surface treatment or pavement, attenuation or wind barriers, architectural features, building materials, and drought resistant landscaping.

    Policy HZ-1.9      Hazard areas maintained as open space
    We minimize risk associated with flood, geologic, and fire hazard zones or areas by encouraging such areas to be preserved and maintained as open space.

    Policy HZ-1.10    Energy independence
    We encourage new residential development to include rooftop solar energy systems and battery storage systems that can provide backup electrical service during temporary power outages.

    Policy HZ-1.11    Energy efficiency retrofits
    We encourage owners of existing residential and commercial properties to retrofit the walls, doors, windows, ceilings, roofs, ductwork, and other elements of their building envelopes, in order to improve energy efficiency and better protect occupants from extreme temperatures.

  • Goal HZ-2 Human-generated Hazards

    People and the natural environment protected from exposure to hazardous materials, excessive noise, and other human-generated hazards.


    Policy HZ-2.1      Hazardous waste facilities
    We regulate and buffer hazardous waste facilities to protect public health and avoid impacts on the natural environment.

    Policy HZ-2.2      Database of hazardous materials
    We maintain up-to-date databases of the storage, use, and production of hazardous materials, based on federally- and state-required disclosure and notification, to appropriately respond to potential emergencies.

    Policy HZ-2.3      Safer alternatives
    We minimize the use of hazardous materials by choosing and by encouraging others to use non-toxic alternatives that do not pose a threat to the environment.

    Policy HZ-2.4      Truck routes for hazardous materials
    We designate truck routes for the transportation of hazardous materials through unincorporated areas and prohibit routes that pass through residential neighborhoods to the maximum extent feasible.

    Policy HZ-2.5      Community education
    We engage with residents and businesses to promote safe practices related to the use, storage, transportation, and disposal of hazardous materials.

    Policy HZ-2.6      Coordination with transportation authorities
    We collaborate with airport owners, FAA, Caltrans, SBCTA, SCAG, neighboring jurisdictions, and other transportation providers in the preparation and maintenance of, and updates to transportation-related plans and projects to minimize noise impacts and provide appropriate mitigation measures.

    Policy HZ-2.7      Truck delivery areas
    We encourage truck delivery areas to be located away from residential properties and require associated noise impacts to be mitigated.

    Policy HZ-2.8      Proximity to noise generating uses
    We limit or restrict new noise sensitive land uses in proximity to existing conforming noise generating uses and planned industrial areas.

    Policy HZ-2.9      Control sound at the source
    We prioritize noise mitigation measures that control sound at the source before buffers, soundwalls, and other perimeter measures.

    Policy HZ-2.10    Agricultural operations
    We require new development adjacent to existing conforming agricultural operations to provide adequate buffers to reduce the exposure of new development to operational noise, odor, and the storage or application of pesticides or other hazardous materials.

    Policy HZ-2.11    Legacy abandoned mine lands
    We inventory legacy abandoned mines and require private property owners to eliminate hazardous conditions that could threaten human life and environmental contamination. We obtain funding to address legacy abandoned mines on County-owned property.

  • Goal HZ-3 Environmental Justice

    For unincorporated environmental justice focus areas, equitable levels of protection from environmental and health hazards; expanded opportunities for physical activity and meaningful civic engagement; and access to healthy food, public facilities, safe and sanitary housing.


    Policy HZ‐3.1    Health risk assessment

    We require projects processed by the County to provide a health risk assessment when a project could potentially increase the incremental cancer risk by 10 in 1 million or more in unincorporated environmental justice focus areas, and we require such assessments to evaluate impacts of truck traffic from the project to freeways. We establish appropriate mitigation prior to the approval of new construction, rehabilitation, or expansion permits.

    Policy HZ‐3.2    Studying and monitoring

    We coordinate with state and regional regulatory entities to monitor pollution exposure, publicize pollution data, and identify solutions in unincorporated environmental justice focus areas. We work with state and regional regulatory entities to obtain grant funding to study cumulative health risks affecting such areas.

    Policy HZ‐3.3    Community emissions reduction plans

    We assist the air quality management districts in establishing community emissions reduction plans for unincorporated environmental justice focus areas and implement, as feasible, those parts of the plans, that are within the jurisdiction and authority of the County, with particular emphasis in addressing the types of pollution identified in the Hazard Element tables.

    Policy HZ‐3.4    Residential improvements

    In directing discretionary housing improvements investments in unincorporated communities, we prioritize investments that also address environmental conditions identified in the Hazard Element tables. We utilize code enforcement activities to enhance structural safety and property maintenance in environmental justice focus areas.

    Policy HZ‐3.5    Hazardous waste facilities

    We do not permit new hazardous waste facilities to be developed in unincorporated environmental justice focus areas.

    Policy HZ‐3.6   Contaminated water and soils

    We advocate for and coordinate with local and regional agencies in efforts to remediate or treat contaminated surface water, groundwater, or soils in or affecting unincorporated environmental justice focus areas. We obtain grant funding and establish partnerships to implement the County’s Site Remediation Program in unincorporated environmental justice focus areas, with particular emphasis in addressing the types of contamination identified in the Hazard Element tables.

    Policy HZ‐3.7    Well water testing

    In unincorporated environmental justice focus areas that are not served by public water systems, we periodically test well water for contamination, identify potential funding sources, and, where feasible, provide technical assistance to implement necessary improvements, with particular emphasis in addressing the types of contamination identified in the Hazard Element tables.

    Policy HZ‐3.8    Indoor air quality

    We educate and raise awareness in unincorporated environmental justice focus areas about indoor air quality, and we pursue grant to address asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

    Policy HZ‐3.9    Public improvements and services

    In directing discretionary investments in County‐ provided public facilities, infrastructure, and services in unincorporated communities, we prioritize investments that also address environmental conditions identified in the Hazard Element tables.

    Policy HZ‐3.10    Multi‐use facilities

    We emphasize coordination efforts for joint use of public and private recreation facilities serving unincorporated environmental justice focus areas. We encourage that newly constructed or substantially remodeled public facilities serving unincorporated environmental justice focus areas be assessed and designed for features and spaces that improve the community’s access to physical activity and/or healthy food options, as feasible and appropriate to the needs of the community.

    Policy HZ‐3.11    Public Health

    We utilize County Department of Public Health experience, expertise, and staffing resources to expand outreach, analysis, and implementation efforts in unincorporated environmental justice focus areas, with particular emphasis in addressing the types of health concerns identified in the Hazard Element tables.

    Policy HZ‐3.12    Barriers to physical activity

    We identify and include appropriate remedies to improve or remove, where feasible, barriers to outdoor physical activity, such as inadequate infrastructure, when doing County projects in environmental justice focus areas, with particular emphasis in addressing the types of health and mobility issues identified in the Hazard Element tables.

    Policy HZ‐3.13    Safe routes to school

    We work with our regional transportation authority, school districts and local law enforcement to ensure that schools have safe walking and bicycling routes to school. In applying for Safe Routes to School grants, we will prioritize schools that are either located in the environmental justice focus areas, or serve children residing in environmental justice focus areas.

    Policy HZ‐3.14    Community‐desired improvements

    We assist unincorporated environmental justice focus areas to identify ways in which they might establish special funding and financing mechanisms to provide community‐desired public facilities and services, recreational facilities, sidewalks and bike trails, and access to fresh and healthy food.

    Policy HZ‐3.15    Food access

    We increase access to healthy food in underserved areas by promoting local food production, community gardens, and urban farms in agricultural zoning districts or on vacant or underutilized lands. We also encourage existing and new small grocery or convenience stores to sell fresh foods in underserved areas. We require the County Healthy Communities Program to prioritize environmental justice communities for technical assistance and grant making, and ensure that residents of environmental justice communities are provided educational materials related to food assistance programs, healthy eating habits and food choices.

    Policy HZ‐3.16    Notification

    We notify the public through the County website when applications are accepted for conditional use permits, changes in zoning, and Policy Plan amendments in or adjacent to environmental justice focus areas. We prepare public notices in the predominant language(s) spoken in the communities containing environmental justice focus areas.

    Policy HZ‐3.17    Community stakeholders

    We identify and coordinate with key community stakeholders through advisory committees or other methods to increase public awareness and obtain timely community input concerning potential funding opportunities, conditional use permits, changes in zoning, and amendments to the Policy Plan in or adjacent to environmental justice focus areas.

    Policy HZ‐3.18    Application requirements

    In order for Planning Project Application (excluding Minor Use Permits) to be deemed complete, we require applicants to indicate whether the project is within or adjacent to an unincorporated environmental justice focus area and, if so, to:

    • document to the County’s satisfaction how an applicant will address environmental justice concerns potentially created by the project; and
    • present a plan to conduct at least one public meeting for nearby residents, businesses, and property owners to obtain public input for applications involving a change in zoning or the Policy Plan. The County will require additional public outreach if the proposed project changes substantively in use, scale, or intensity from the proposed project presented at previous public outreach meeting(s).

    Policy HZ‐3.19    Community education

    We make educational materials available to the public in unincorporated environmental justice focus areas so that they clearly understand the potential for adverse pollution, noise, odor, vibration, and lighting and glare, and the effects of toxic materials to promote civil engagement. We require that such educational materials be developed in accordance with Plain Language Guidelines.

    Policy HZ‐3.20    Updating EJFAs

    We update the assessment of boundaries, issues, policies, objectives, and implementation strategies regarding environmental justice focus areas subsequent to updates in CalEnviroScreen, equivalent state tools, or as the County deems necessary.

    Policy HZ‐3.21    Emerging pollutants

    For pollutants that do not yet have established regulatory thresholds, we coordinate with regulatory agencies to assist their efforts to monitor pollutant levels, establish thresholds, and identify funding and mitigation options, particularly for pollutants that are found in environmental justice focus areas.